Viljoenskroon Intervention; Review of Warrenton Intervention

Meeting Summary

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Meeting report


22 October 1999

Documents handed out:
Viljoenskroon Intervention notice (Appendix 1)

The committee decided to send a delegation to Warrenton on 26/27 October to investigate whether to extend the period of intervention there. Secondly, they considered the request to intervene in the Viljoenskroon area. Lastly, they discussed the committee budget.

Municipal Systems Bill has been tabled and it is a S75 bill. Hearings on the Bill have been budgeted for.

Review of Warrenton intervention
The chairperson, Mr Bhabha (ANC, Mpumalanga), informed the committee that they have to review the intervention that had taken place in Warrenton. He noted that they had visited that area in March 1999 and a follow-up visit would take place on the 26/27 October. Due to financial constraints only a small delegation would be permitted to go. The delegation would comprise of Mr Makoela (ANC, Northern Province), Mr Sulliman (ANC, Northern Cape) and the chairperson.

The provincial government of the Northern Cape had requested an extension of the intervention.

Mr Marais (ANC, Free State) asked what progress had been made with this intervention? The chairperson replied that there had been some progress and a municipal support team had put the necessary systems in place. However, if they pull out now, it was feared these systems would collapse. He noted that the level of training had not been implemented as speedily as they had wanted.

Viljoenskroon intervention
The chairperson told the committee that he had received a notice from the MEC for their approval of the Viljoenskroon intervention. However this notice did not reflect all the information that was required. The chairperson stated that he was not happy with the quality of the notice and explained that it contained no empirical data whatsoever. He had phoned the MEC to indicate the defects whereupon the MEC apologised and explained that the province did not have much experience in intervention procedure. In response to this, the chairperson sent them precedents and they are now in the process of amending their notice.

The chairperson stated that the only question that had to be answered now was whether there had been compliance with the Constitution. They concluded that all the time frames have been complied with.

The chairperson noted that with regard to interventions in general, there were some issues which needed to be considered. Firstly, is S139(1) of the Constitution a prerequisite for S139(2)? Secondly, there is currently no rule/policy states that such a notice has to be in a particular format. Thirdly, if a notice of intervention does not state which executive obligations are sought then does the NCOP have the power to tell the province or is that power beyond the NCOP?

Mr D Frank, an NCOP researcher, replied that according to the Constitution S139(1) is not a prerequisite of S139(2). The remaining questions were not answered.

Mr Marais noted that intervention was a drastic measure. He argued that if you do not issue directives and give assistance to a municipality before intervention that could create a precedent in that other areas will also expect support.

In this regard the chairperson agreed with Mr Marais and noted that his point was the object of major debate and accordingly they would need a policy. He noted however that a visit to Viljoenskroon did not bind the committee in any way. If they arrived there and the defects were so bad that they could not be cured then the MEC would have to start afresh. He noted that although the notice sent to him was vague it contained sufficient information to justify an investigation.

Mr Marais asked what the future role of the district councils would be in this regard and what role the NCOP must establish with the stakeholders such as Eskom. The chairperson replied that the district councils play a key role but did not elaborate. With regard to the role of individual creditors he noted that organised local government deals with these service providers. It was decided that the delegation sent from the committee should be representative in terms of gender and ethnicity and should comprise of four committee members.

Each intervention costs between ten thousand to twenty thousand rand (one intervention had even cost thirty thousand rand). Further, a review can cost between six to ten thousand rand. In terms of committee budgeting, the number of interventions needs to be anticipated. Until March next year two interventions are expected which will total forty thousand rand.

Municipal Systems Bill
It was noted that the Municipal Systems Bill has been tabled and that it was a S75 bill. While no provincial input was needed there should still be attendance. The chairperson noted that he had budgeted an amount in the region of five thousand rand for full participation in forthcoming hearings.

Appendix 1:

The Free State Government intervened in terms of section 139(1)(b) of the Constitution on 4 October 1999.

The Min. of Provincial and Local Government approved the intervention on 7 October 1999.

In terms of section 139(2)(c) the intervention must end unless it is approved by the NCOP within 30 days of its first sitting after the intervention began. The notice of the intervention has to be tabled in the NCOP by 28 October 1999 and must be approved by 13 November 1999.

The matter should be referred to the Select Committee on 1 November to enable it to report to the House at the plenary schedule for 11 November 1999.


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